Marriage is a central doctrine of Mormonism. The Family: A Proclamation to the World was issued by the First Presidency of the Mormon Church in 1995 and states that “the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” This belief defines all extra-marital sexual activity, including homosexual activity, as sinful. Gay Mormons find themselves in a position where they need to choose between relying on Christ’s atonement to overcome emotions that contribute to same-sex attraction or distancing themselves from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through a willing determination to pursue a gay lifestyle. The desire and need for the love of a companion is innate in everyone. The importance of marriage is central to Mormon beliefs, and eternal marriage is required to attain the highest glory in heaven. The role of husband or wife is afforded every individual in the Plan of Salvation. This poses a dilemma for gay Mormons who are not attracted to the opposite sex. However, there are many gay Mormons that feel their same-sex attraction is unwanted as they strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Mormon Church supports these individuals by providing counseling from their bishops and LDS Family Services to help them overcome these feelings and tendencies, and encourages family and other Church members to give positive support in this process.It is a long and difficult struggle to change or, perhaps, overcome one’s sexual orientation, but despite the denial of many pro-gay groups and psychologists, there are many formerly gay Mormons that have done it. The Mormon Church holds the laws of God supreme, and will not bow to popular opinion that asserts because ‘they were born that way’, they should be permitted to live a homosexual lifestyle.
The biology of same-sex attraction is still under debate. The factors contributing to those tendencies are complex; it is not either genetics or environment that is solely responsible. Regardless of whether it is ‘natural’ or not, it is written in the Book of Mormon that the natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19). Agency is a fundamental doctrine of the Mormon faith, and the proper use of our moral agency furthers our eternal progression and is the purpose of mortality. The tendency toward homosexuality is sometimes unfairly stigmatized, but in doctrine it is not treated any differently than a desire to indulge in adultery, fornication, or any other sinful act. The natural tendency toward sin is no excuse. Researchers have formulated theories of genetic tendencies toward alcoholism or violence, but the disposition toward any wrongdoing does not justify it or make it less sinful. Although temptation may be strong, self-mastery is a spiritual goal of the faithful, and any sinful act must be repented of.
The now widespread acceptance of gay and lesbian lifestyles has made this issue more prominent among Mormons. In Church conferences, the topic is often referred to or directly addressed. The number of Mormons openly identifying themselves as gay is on the rise, due to the increasing social acceptance of this lifestyle. There is also the growing development of a gay Mormon community that embraces both its sexual orientation and affiliation with the Mormon Church. However, this is not in line with the doctrines of Mormonism. It is difficult to balance tolerance without accepting or condoning what is a sinful practice, and demand obedience to the gospel without offending or alienating gay Mormons.
The Mormon Church stands with other faiths such as the Catholic Church and many evangelical Christian groups in maintaining that homosexual activity is a sin. The Church’s strict Law of Chastity, placed against the highly political pro-gay movement, sometimes makes it difficult for family or church members to sympathize and give positive assistance to those struggling with homosexual feelings and can cause an added stigma for gay Mormons. The Mormon Church has greatly increased its resources and training in recent years to properly address the issue of gay Mormons. While in no way supporting a homosexual lifestyle, the Church works with individuals who are attracted to their same sex, and their family members, with patience, tolerance, understanding, and love, to overcome these temptations and help them live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is written in the Book of Mormon that through the grace of Jesus, weaknesses can become strengths (Ether 12:27).
There are many books, articles, and addresses by Mormon General Authorities that deal with the issues of gay Mormons. Online there are many support groups as well. Evergreen International is the only known organization for gay Mormons that completely supports Mormon Church doctrine and policy. The topic of gay Mormons is a difficult one right now, because of the swing of popular opinion toward acceptance, but the Mormon Church cannot compromise the laws of God and counsels those who wish to follow Christ but suffer from same-sex attraction to work to overcome it.
This said, the Mormon Church upholds the civil rights of all citizens. They afford gays all civil rights except the ability to marry. The Church has even declared that it will not fight civil unions between gays. Recently, a bill was proposed in Utah guaranteeing civil rights to gays. Click here to read the Church’s response.